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All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Northern Nevada: How Warm In Winter?
Reader: In your May '08 issue there was an article about four-wheeling in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada. Although I don't live in Nevada any longer, I was born and raised in Carson City, not far from the northwestern corner of the State, and I explored the state extensively in my youth.
An informational box near the end of the article caught my attention, specifically about the weather in the Black Rock Desert. The informational box stated that winter temperatures in the Black Rock Desert could be in the 70s. My experience in the area differs. Northwestern Nevada tends to be cold and snowy in the winter to the point that it's dangerous.
I checked weather.msn.com for Gerlach, Nevada, a northwestern Nevada town, to see what information was given on average highs and record highs for that town in the winter. The average high temperature in Gerlach for the months of December, January and February is in the 40s; the record highs are in the 60s. Additionally, the record low for Gerlach for those three months is -30 degrees. Tourists equipped for winter temperatures in the 70s would be uncomfortable, to say the least.
Why Full-Time 4WD On Luxo-Rigs?
Reader: Why do all luxury SUVs have to give up mpg to have full-time four-wheel drive? In today's computer-controlled world, I don't see how it is better. Wouldn't a selectable transfer case be better for mpg and CAFE ratings?
My wife just bought an '08 Cadillac Escalade, which on the highway gets 18 mpg at 70 mph. Wouldn't it get 20-plus without the outdated full-time four-wheel drive? The manufacturers can't use the durability excuse, because my '06 F-350 dualie with full Banks Power and Snow Performance water/methanol, is part-time. Do the luxury brands think their buyers are too stupid to work a stick or turn a switch? Please pass along to the manufacturers.
Editor: You are correct that part-time four-wheel drive = more efficient torque transfer, and less driveline drag on pavement, than full-time four-wheel drive, which = better mileage, probably 1 to 2 mpg. Add a manual transmission, and you probably get another 1 mpg on top of that.
Why do the manufacturers do what they do? As a rule, it's a combination of market economics and consumer preference. A lot of market research-millions of dollars' worth, in fact-goes into the research and development of every new vehicle a manufacturer produces. And it's a fair guess to conclude that the overwhelming majority of prospective owners of these vehicles-at least, those segments of the consumer market that the manufacturers want to target with them-most likely wants the tractive benefits of four-wheel drive but doesn't particularly need or want a low-range gear. The same principle, we imagine, goes for stick trannies. Which makes sense to us. I mean, if you're gonna drop 70 grand on a Land Cruiser or a Range Rover Sport, are you likely the kind of person who wants to clutch in to row through a bunch of gears? Also, the latest generation of electronic six-speeds on the newest SUVs almost all have a lock-out gear detent that allows you to hold any individual gear for virtually as long as you want it. And only offering a single transmission on a new vehicle also helps keep overhead costs down for the manufacturer.
Wants Correct Specs For Featured Power Wagon
I am a bit tardy in getting this in, and you may well have several replies to information found in your April issue featuring the '54 Dodge Power Wagon. There are a few mistakes in the article that need correcting.
While all cargo boxes made for this family of Power Wagons are interchangeable, not all are correct. The bed on this truck came from a '46-'50 model, as evidenced by the smooth sides and four square pockets. The correct bed had three "free-form" pockets.
While the axles are stock, they are not Danas. These are corporate DCPD axles, whose gear ratio depends upon how the truck was equipped from the factory. If the truck came with 7.50-16 wheels, the ratio would be 4.89:1. More likely, the truck came with 9.00-16 wheels, making the ratio 5.83:1, as stated in the text of the piece. There is no way the ratio could be 3.90:1, as stated in your specifications box.
Editor: You're right, we did receive several other letters on the subject, and thanks to all who wrote in to correct us. When we compile specs for our monthly feature trucks, we have to rely on the vehicle's owner for a lot of that specific vehicle's technical information, and sometimes, erroneous information gets passed on to us in the process. But thanks for keeping us on our toes.
A Ford Aerostar At Top Truck Challenge?!?
Reader: How did that lifted minivan even get justified as a valid competitor in Top Truck Challenge (April '08)? That is a slot that an actual challenger could have taken. What a waste.
Somewhere in AK
Editor: When we sort through the list of TTC entrants each year, we try to compile an assortment of rigs that's representative of what we received and what's out there across the country: Rock rigs, mud boggers, tube buggies, daily drivers, low-buck trucks, high-dollar specials, and yes, a Jamboree show truck or two. Top Truck Challenge has always had a diversity of vehicles in its field nearly every year, and this year will be no exception-as it turned out, hundreds of our readers appreciated this truck enough to vote it into the Top 10, so you'll see more of it in the November and December '08 issues. (Don't you just love us now?)
To us, it's like this: If the owner of that Aerostar is willing to trailer a rig like that all the way to TTC, and quite possibly destroy it, for the sheer enjoyment of our readers, all we can say is, more power to him.